James Forsyth

New Labour, a question of dates

New Labour, a question of dates
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Ed Balls makes an interesting definitional point in his interview with The Times. He says that to him “new Labour was 1994 to 1997, us translating from being a party of opposition to a party of government, understanding that our radicalism had to be based on credible foundations, that no one would trust you on public services unless you were trusted on interest rates and inflation.”

What many other people mean by New Labour is the public service reform agenda. But that didn’t really kick into gear until after 2001. Balls claims that, that was when New Labour lost its way.

Balls is trying to argue that it was the ’94 to ’97 period that was responsible for the three election victories and that the party can, therefore, move left. The Labour manifesto in 1997 is far more left wing than this year’s was.

The interview is also striking for the ongoing attempt to deal with Balls’ image problem, that he is seen as representing the worst of the aggressive, macho political culture of the Brown gang. In this interview, there’s much talk of making cakes for his daughters’ birthday parties.